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David Nelson Beach, Jr. Papers

Call Number: RG 60A

Scope and Contents

These papers continue the record of the Beach Family begun in Record Group 60, which primarily documents the life and work of David Nelson Beach, Jr.'s father, David Nelson Beach, and his uncle, Harlan P. Beach. Descendant of established New England families, graduate of Yale College and Yale Divinity School, David Nelson Beach, Jr. was a respected and influential clergyman for more than half a century, and a systematic "keeper" of records. Besides providing biographical information, Beach's papers include valuable, thorough documentation of two movements in which he was a key player: the movement toward merger of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church to form the United Church of Christ, and the Connecticut Civil Rights Commission.

The Family Correspondence of Series I all dates from before 1928 and is primarily between Beach and his fiancé/wife Marguerite Mills Beach or Beach and his parents and siblings. Extensive correspondence from the 1915 to 1918 time period documents Beach's life as a student at Yale and Bangor Theological Seminary, and his service with the YMCA in France during World War I.

The General Correspondence of Series II is not extensive, but provides an overview of Beach's activities in the churches and organizations with which he was involved, including First Church (Center Church) in New Haven. Much of the substantial correspondence of the record group is contained in Series IV and V with the records documenting the Congregational merger and the Connecticut Civil Rights Commission.

The notes in Series III date primarily from Beach's years at Yale College, providing a thorough record of his undergraduate coursework. Beach's writings include sermons and articles related to the nature of Congregationalism. Other notes, drafts, and writings by Beach are contained in Series IV and V.

Series IV contains a variety of records related to the merger that formed the United Church of Christ in 1957, including legal briefs, letters, memos, notes, and material documenting the role of Beach and Center Church, New Haven. These records of a key player who was in favor of the merger provide an important complement to similar records in Record Group No. 52, the Papers of Henry David Gray, an influential opponent of the merger.

Beach's twelve years of service on what was first called the Connecticut Inter-Racial Commission and then the Connecticut Civil Rights Commission came at a crucial period in the development and enforcement of civil rights in the United States. The thorough Commission records retained by Beach include minutes, letters, memos, cases of appeal, conference reports, and other documentation providing a vivid picture of the civil rights climate in Connecticut and surrounding states from 1948 to 1960.

Series VI, Biographical Documentation, includes a variety of materials shedding light on Beach as an individual, his family, and the organizations with which he was involved during his long and active career.


  • 1862-1989


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Barbara Beach Alter.


  1. I. Family Correspondence, 1913-1927, undated
  2. II. General Correspondence, 1913-1989, undated
  3. III. Notes and Writings, 1913-1984, undated
  4. IV. Records Related to Merger forming UCC, 1947-1981, undated
  5. V. Records Related to Civil Rights, 1948-1981, undated
  6. VI. Biographical Documentation, 1898-1985, undated


9 Linear Feet (24 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, writings, collected material, and biographical records provide valuable documentation of Beach's Yale education, his work with the YMCA in France during World War I, his ministry, his contributions to the Congregational denomination, and the work of the Connecticut Civil Rights Commission. David Nelson Beach, Jr. (1894-1990) was a clergyman in New England and Minnesota, including at First Church of Christ (Center Church) in New Haven from 1943 to 1960. He served on the Connecticut Civil Rights Commission from 1948 to 1960 and played an influential role in the denominational merger that created the United Church of Christ in 1957.

Biographical / Historical

1894 June 17
Born in Cambridge, MA, son of Lillian Tappan Beach and David Nelson Beach, who was minister of Prospect Street Church, Cambridge, and later President of Bangor Theological Seminary
Graduated from Phillips Academy
B.A., Yale College, Phi Beta Kappa
1916-1917, 1919-1920
Study at Bangor Theological Seminary, before and after YMCA service in France; received B.D. from Bangor in 1927
1917 July 22
Married Marguerite Mills, who became the mother of their five children
American Expeditionary Force, YMCA service in France
Ordained for chaplaincy; post-war service as YMCA Secretary at Boston University and University of Maine
Student minister, Congregational Church in Millinocket, ME
Minister, First Church, Guilford, CT
Finished seminary work, received B.D., Yale Divinity School
Minister, Park Place Congregational Church, Pawtucket, RI
Minister, Payson Park Church, Belmont, MA
Minister, First Church, Springfield, MA
D.D., American International College
Minister, Plymouth Church, Minneapolis, MN
Minister, First Church of Christ (Center Church), New Haven. While in New Haven he was chaplain of the Revolutionary Second Company Governor's Footguard, first Chairman of the Human Relations Council, President of the Yale Divinity School Alumni Council
Member of the Connecticut Civil Rights Commission (formerly know as Inter-Racial Commission); Chairman of Commission 1954-1955
Chairman of General Council Commission on Interchurch Relations and Christian Unity
Moderator of General Association of Connecticut and the New Haven Association
Minister, West Dennis Community Church, Cape Cod
Part-time pastorate at Short Beach Community Church, Branford, CT
1990 June 25
Guide to the David Nelson Beach, Jr. Papers
Compiled by Andrea Wong and Martha Lund Smalley
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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